Shortly after Carlos Hamilton began his medical practice in Houston, he inherited an over-sized piano that had belonged to his great-grandmother. The difficulty in moving the instrument, even in the 20th century, made him wonder how―and why―a family in 1857 would move it from North Carolina to a rural east Texas plantation so that a ten-year-old child could study music. Although Berta Smith Wootters had died many decades before Hamilton was born, her children continued to express great affection and admiration for her. Her husband, John Wootters, had died young, likely from complications of a Civil War wound, yet she persevered, managing her affairs and guiding all her children to university educations and productive lives.
Wanting to discover more about the life of this strong woman, Hamilton traveled to Crockett, Texas, where he met Edgar Pouncey, a descendant of a family of slaves who had come to Texas with the Smith family. As Pouncey related stories of the Smith family over a hundred years later, he spoke with respect and warmth. The insight gained on this visit set the author on a decades long journey to understand his forbearers and their turbulent and tragic times.
A Rose Blooms in Texas is the culmination of Hamilton’s meticulous research on the life of Berta Smith Wooters, beginning with her graduation from Fairfield Woman’s College. Hamilton presents the narrative as historical fiction and augments it with original letters and documents. What emerges is a compelling picture of life in East Texas during the Civil War and the strength of character of a woman who was able to preserve her family’s values of education and enlightened treatment of others―and her beloved piano―for future generations.